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A Month Off Social Media

Today marks my first day back on social media since the end of October; inspired by my friend Dasarte Yarnway’s 40 days fast, I decided to give up Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for a month.

Haters are going to say that I didn’t have a true social media fast because I still posted throughout the month—and I get that. But for me, the fast was to get reduce the amount of time spent on and thinking about social media, particularly Twitter. I still posted to Twitter, using a third-party app called Buffer, to circulate content that I had written/recorded and to highlight a couple of great moments during the month.

I also logged in a couple of times to answer some DM’s—I viewed these logins as communication, no different than a text message. Each time I went to my DM’s I logged in and clicked the messages link before seeing my feed, so I stayed true to being oblivious to what was going on in FinTwit. I also shifted those conversations to email to avoid the temptation of continuing to login to go back and forth in the conversation.

At the end of the day, the fast was structured for me and no one else. So the haters can hate, but I enter December more focused, creative, and present than ever—a success in my eyes.

Here are a few observations:

More Time Cuddling

Since I didn’t have Twitter on my phone (and won’t going forward), there was no reason to keep my phone by my side. I made a conscious effort to keep my phone in another room when relaxing with Ang and the boys. This led to more quality time on the couch, board games being played, and fun with the boys. I realized that when I would scroll on my phone, oftentimes reading a blog post or article, it gave the impression that I didn’t want to be bothered…this was not the case, but that was the messaging.

My iPad is the only device that will have social media apps on it—I’m not quite creating a “dumb phone”, but if I want to log in to any app, it’ll be on my iPad which will require a little more effort and time to decide if it is a good time to sign in.

I’m anticipating this will lead to a continue in more cuddling before the boys get too old.

I Didn’t Really Miss Facebook Or Instagram

This wasn’t a big surprise to me.

Neither Facebook or Instagram provides the value that Twitter does, which meant it was easier to go without. Although Facebook is a community of personal contacts from different phases of my life, I really only used it to post pictures and videos of the boys so my family could see them. I also don’t view Facebook as a major part of my business strategy, so not logging in was extremely easy. I’m not sure what my Facebook usage will be going forward; I’m sure I’ll keep it, but not sure why.

The same can be said of Instagram, although I’m still determined to figure out a business case for Instagram—it’s more of a challenge and to be able to help others leverage the platform.

I did continue to use LinkedIn because I was not a regular user and I did not have much of a social connection to it. I will say I see more potential for LinkedIn and plan on trying to replicate the success I’ve had building relationships on Twitter on LinkedIn. Don’t sleep on LI.

Twitter Occupied More Than Time

It’s easy to see how much screen time is dedicated to various apps—Apple makes that very easy. Although it may have appeared that I spent a lot of time on Twitter, the actual minutes in the app was really not that high. I had gotten very efficient with quick bursts of activity in between meetings or office activities.

What I underestimated, or didn’t even realize, was the amount of time my mind spend occupied with what was going on in FinTwit. Chances are you probably spend more time thinking about your Twitter interactions than you realize—it happens in your subconscious (I have no science to back this up), and you won’t realize how much of your brainpower is exhausted until you take a break.

Without wondering what I was “missing” out on, what trolls might be saying, what I wish I would have said in a thread, thinking about how I could catch up to someone else, or whatever else my mind was thinking, I saw my creativity, productivity, and motivation increase.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could create more and better blogs, videos, and podcasts if I wasn’t preoccupied with Twitter.

In November, I wrote more blog posts and recorded more videos than any other month. I also got (with the help of my developer) my new website www.justincastelli.io, which includes a new blog called “The Advisor Of Tomorrow’, ready to launch and spent a lot of quality time in The Advisor Growth Community™ and one-on-one with AGC™ members.

And all of that is in addition to a busy month of client reviews.

Buffer Is My Friend

As I mentioned earlier, it was never my intent to stop posting content to Twitter during my hiatus, so I did a quick Google search and discovered Buffer. Buffer allows me to post immediately or schedule posts without logging into Twitter. Better yet, the free version, which is what I’m using, gives no analytics.

I’m sure I created a little confusion by using Buffer and hopefully I did not offend anyone by not responding to their comments (yet).

I will continue to use Buffer to post and schedule posts, even though the fast is over. The gameplan is to post through Buffer and then use scheduled times to hop on the app and respond and engage with the community.

I’m not sure why I waited so long to use a service like Buffer, but it’s an extremely useful tool to allow me to post when I need to and save the engagement for later.

Twitter Is Still Important

Some of my closest relationships in the profession exist because of Twitter. I was able to sit on the set of ETF IQ on Bloomberg because of Twitter. I am a better financial advisor and investment manager because of Twitter. I’ve gained too much from being a part of FinTwit and I’m not willing to give any of it up.

I’m also not willing to give up the future conversations and relationships that will come from being an active member of FinTwit.

Twitter (maybe not Facebook or Instagram) will always be a part of my routine—now it will be more structured to prevent the negative impact on my creativity and productivity.

But, It Didn’t Take Long…

I think I was on Twitter for about 5 minutes after responding to as many comments that I missed before I was reminded of what I did not miss about Twitter—the trolls/smart-asses/people just looking for conflict. I was reading a thread that Patrick O’Shaughnessy had started about how financial advisors grow their businesses. I was looking for real answers and there were plenty, but there were also responses that added nothing to the thread.

I know these individuals make up the minority of FinTwit, but for whatever reason, the negativity they bring to threads stands out. Going forward the block button will be used—not for having different views and opinions, but for hate/ugliness/etc. Who’s got time for that?

Final Thoughts

My break from Twitter was invaluable. I come out of November more clear, productive, and motivated. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with everyone and connecting with new people! If you’re an avid user of Twitter (or pick your favorite social media), I encourage you to take a month break. You may not see the same results as I did, but I’m willing to bet you’ll find something positive to take away from it.

I’ll most likely make this an annual occurrence but might make it more frequent if I recognize I’m falling back into old habits.

It’s good to be back!

Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog should be considered advice, or recommendations. If you have questions pertaining to your individual situation you should consult your financial advisor. For all of the disclaimers, please see my disclaimer page.